When it comes your hair, it’s good to prepare for your wedding early. Not so you can grow your hair out to Rapunzel lengths when you normally sport a short, sharp bob … but so you can get your hair into shape (sort of like bridal boot camp). Fortunately, helping your hair reach its full glory doesn’t involve any push-ups. All you have to do is stop abusing it … and give it lots of time to recover.
Many women diligently avoid overstressing their tresses with too much hairspray or too many blowdry sessions, excessive heat treatments or too many coloring jobs. What they don’t realize is the problem lurking in their shampoo.
According to certain wig makers, the most beautiful hair in the world belongs to certain sects of nuns who only wash their hair with water — never shampoo. It’s true that if you stop using shampoo entirely, your hair will probably regain the natural shine that most of us only associate with young children. However — and this is a big but — your hair will probably look like a big grease mop while it adjusts to your new regimen. For some people, the “grease mop” stage can last for months. Talk about uncomfortable … and for most of us, unacceptable!
But we still need to take a look at the problem with shampoo. Most of us use formulations containing three little letters that add up to big trouble when it comes to hair: SLS. In some cases, this is sodium laurel sulfate. In others, it’s sodium laureth sulfate. In either case, it’s bad for your hair.
Sodium laurel sulfate and its merciless cousin, laureth, are industrial-strength strippers. They’re used to degrease floors in industrial kitchens, and brakes and axels in auto factories. If you’ve ever wondered why your hair looks a little dull or seems to split on a dime, check your shampoo label. SLS shows up in the vast majority of bottles you’ll find on the shelves.
SLS is what gives your hair that lighter-than-air, fly away feeling when you first wash your locks. It’s also what makes your hair resemble a Wesson bottle when you wake up the next day — your scalp is over-producing oil in response to the harsh stripping action. Over time, these industrial-powered degreasers lead to split ends, dull and even burned-out hair.
So how do you get your hair looking healthy again without spending three months as a walking deep fryer? Dump your shampoo — and get your hands on the rare formulations that are SLS-free. You can find some in the regular aisles, but the best place to look is the health food section of a relatively upscale grocery store. SLS-free, all-natural shampoos will cost a bit more, but the increase is negligible compared to what most women spend trying to repair the damage from overzealous shampoo formulas. It’s nice to buy more than one brand and see what feels good to you.
When you stop washing your hair with harsh sodium sulfates, you’ll feel a difference right away. Your hair won’t have quite that same fly-away feel you’re used to. On the other hand, when you wake up the morning after, it will still feel like hair, much like it did the day before. Your hair will hold its shape better, and look good for longer. Over time, as your new hair grows in, you’ll start to see a huge increase in shine, and a big decrease in split ends. The finer and more delicate your hair was to start with, the more dramatic the new you.